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1.

A student is asked: What is meant by background radiation?


She writes: It is the radiation produced by the rocks in the ground.
This answer is
A

correct

incorrect rocks do not produce radiation

incomplete

incorrect this radiation would not be ionising


(Total 1 mark)

2.

Smoke detectors contain an alpha emitting source.


(a)

Describe how you would determine whether this radioactive source emits alpha particles
only.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(4)

(b)

State why smoke detectors do not provide a radiation risk in normal use.
.....................................................................................................................................
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.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 5 marks)

3.

Potassium-40 (19K) is unstable.


(a)

Calculate the binding energy per nucleon for potassium-40.


Nuclear mass of potassium-40 = 39.953548 u
Mass of one neutron = 1.008 665 u
Mass of one proton = 1.007 276 u

Binding energy per nucleon = ..................................


(6)

(b)

Explain what is meant by the random nature of nuclear decay.


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)

(c)

Scientists have worked out the age of the Moon by dating rocks brought back by the
Apollo missions. They use the decay of potassium-40 to argon-40. The half-life of
potassium-40 is 1.3 109 years.
(i)

Show that the decay constant of potassium-40 is about 5 1010 y1.


...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(1)

(ii)

In one rock sample the scientists found 0.84 g of argon-40 and 0.10 g of
potassium-40.
Calculate the age of the rock sample in years.

Age of rock = ..........................................


(4)
(Total 12 marks)

4.

A satellite uses a radium-226 source as a back-up power supply. Radium-226 is an alpha


particle emitter.
(a)

The satellite requires a back-up power of 55W. Each alpha particle is emitted with an
energy of 7.65 1013 J. Show that the activity of the source must be about 7 1013 Bq.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)

(b)

Radium-226 has a half-life of 1620 years. Show that its decay constant is about
1.4 1011 s1.
1 year = 3.15 107 s
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)

(c)

Hence determine the number of radium-226 nuclei that would produce the required
activity.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
Number of nuclei = ...................................................
(2)

(d)

Calculate the mass of radium-226 that would produce a power of 55W.


226 g of radium-226 contains 6.02 1023 nuclei.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
Mass = ...................................................
(2)

(e)

In practice this mass of radium-226 produces more than 55W of power. Suggest a reason
why.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 9 marks)

5.

Recently, some old human skulls have been found in Mexico. Their age has been established
using radiocarbon, 14C, dating.
(a)

When a 14C nucleus decays, it emits a -particle. State how the composition of the
nucleus changes as a result of the decay.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)

(b)

When examining a small sample of one of these old skulls, scientists found that
2.3 1011 % of the carbon was 14C, whereas in recent skulls this proportion is
1.0 1010 %.
(i)

Calculate the age of this old skull.


Half-life of 14C = 5730 years
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
Age = ......................................
(3)

(ii)

Give one reason why the value you calculated above may be inaccurate.
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(1)

(iii)

Recent bones are dated using the decay of 210Pb, which has a half-life of 21 years.
Explain why 210Pb is more suitable than 14C for dating recent bones.
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 6 marks)

6.

PET (positron emission tomography) scanning is often used to see how cancers are responding
to therapy. It requires a radioactive isotope which emits positrons. A positron soon meets an
electron and annihilates. The resulting photons can be detected and an image produced. An
isotope of fluorine 189 F can be used as it can be added to a glucose molecule. The patient is
given a glucose drink containing this fluorine isotope which will then be absorbed by the
cancer.
(a)

The fluorine isotope is produced by bombarding an isotope of oxygen


energy proton. Write a nuclear equation for this process.

18
8O

with a high

............................................................ ..............................................................
(3)

(b)

The protons are typically given an energy of 19 MeV. Briefly suggest how this might be
achieved.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)

(c)

Fluorine 18F emits positrons and has a half-life of 110 minutes. Explain the meaning of
half-life and suggest why 110 minutes is suitable for this application.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(3)

(d)

Two identical photons are produced when an electron meets a positron. Calculate the
wavelength of each photon.
.....................................................................................................................................
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.....................................................................................................................................
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(4)

(e)

Detectors placed on opposite sides of the patient detect these photons and can then
accurately predict the precise location of the positron annihilation within the patient.
Explain why the two photons must be emitted in opposite directions.
.....................................................................................................................................
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.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 14 marks)

7.

As a beta-minus particle travels through air it causes ionisation.


(a)

Describe how the beta particle produces ionisation.


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)

(b)

Explain how the amount of ionisation determines a beta particles range in air.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(3)

(c)

Explain why, towards the end of its range, a beta particle will ionise more molecules per
unit length than at the beginning of its range.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 6 marks)

8.

(a)

Radioactivity involves the spontaneous emission of radiation from unstable nuclei.


Explain the meaning of the words in italics as they apply to the process of radioactivity.
Spontaneous ................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
Radiation .....................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
Unstable .......................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(3)

(b)

The graph shows how the activity of a sample of the radioisotope technetium, which is
used extensively in medicine, varies with time.

Activity 8
/107 Bq
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

(i)

10

12

14

16

18
20
22
Time/hours

24

Use the graph to determine the half-life of technetium.


...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
Half-life = .............................................
(2)

(ii)

Hence calculate the decay constant for technetium.


...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
Decay constant = .............................................
(1)

10

(iii)

Determine the number of technetium atoms remaining in the sample after 24 hours.
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
Number of atoms = ..............................................
(2)
(Total 8 marks)

9.

(a)

Radioactivity is a random process. Explain what is meant by a random process in this


context.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)

(b)

The graph shows what happens to the numbers of neutrons and protons when americium
(Am) decays into neptunium (Np).

Number 147
of
neutrons 146

Am

145
144

Np

143
142

91

92

93

94

95

96
97
Number of
protons

11

Give the nuclear equation for this decay.

(3)

12

(c)

Describe an experiment, involving absorption, to demonstrate that a given radioisotope


emits beta radiation and no other. Include a diagram of the experimental arrangement you
would use.

.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
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(5)
(Total 9 marks)

13

10.

A student uses a computer program to model radioactive decay. The program draws a grid of
300 cells on the computer screen.
A letter can be generated at random in each cell. If a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) is generated, the cell is
considered to have decayed and is not available for the next trial of the decay process.
The table shows the number of the trial along with the number of cells which have not decayed.

(i)

Number of trial

Number of cells that


have not decayed

300

242

196

158

128

103

83

On the grid below, plot these data and draw the line of best fit through your points.

Number of cells that


have not decayed
400

300

200

100

0
0

3
4
Number of trial

7
(2)

14

(ii)

What is meant by the term half-life of a radioactive nuclide?


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................

(iii)

Use your graph to find the half-life in terms of the number of trials of this computer
model of radioactive decay.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
Half-life = ...................................................trials
(3)

(iv)

In what way is this model similar to radioactive decay?


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)

(v)

In what way is this model different from radioactive decay?


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 7 marks)

15

11.

In April 1986 an explosion destroyed one of the reactors at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station.
In the accident, radioisotopes were scattered over the surrounding area and many were carried
large distances by the wind. The contamination included isotopes of strontium, iodine, caesium
and plutonium.
Data on these isotopes are shown below:
Isotope

Proton number

Half-life

Particles emitted

38

28 years

53

8.1 days

134

Cs

55

2.1 years

137

Cs

30 years

239

Pu

24 000 years

240

Pu

6600 years

90

Sr

131

94

Fill in the missing proton numbers.


(1)

The fuel for the power station originally consisted of uranium ( 235
92 U and
(i)

238
92 U

).

Name the process which produced strontium and caesium.


.....................................................................................................................................

(ii)

Suggest how plutonium was formed in the nuclear reactor.


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)

16

In June 1986, the area around the power station was still dangerously contaminated, with so
much 137Cs in the ground that it emitted 1.5 106 Bq m2. Calculate the emission rate which
would be recorded today from this same ground, stating any assumptions which you make.
...............................................................................................................................................
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...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Emission rate = ...............................Bq m2
Assumption: ..
...............................................................................................................................................
(4)

Explain which of the scattered isotopes would no longer be of concern today.


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Some politicians say that the Chernobyl accident happened so long ago that it is no longer
dangerous to live in the area. Comment on this statement.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 11 marks)

17

12.

(a)

Name two sources of background radiation.


1 ..................................................................................................................................
2 ..................................................................................................................................
(2)

(b)

(i)

A student is doing an experiment using radioactive material. She uses a counter to


record the total count. Her teacher points out that she has forgotten to measure the
background count rate. Describe the procedure the student should follow. You
must mention any additional equipment she might need to use.
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...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(4)

(ii)

Why might it have been unnecessary to measure the background count rate?
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 7 marks)

18

13.

(a)

(i)

Carbon has two important isotopes,


carbon-12 is stable.

12
6C

and

14
6C.

Carbon-14 is unstable but

What is meant by saying that carbon-12 is stable?


...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(1)

(ii)

Carbon-14 is formed in the atmosphere when a particle 01 X collides with an atom


of nitrogen.
Complete the equation to show the missing nucleon and proton numbers:
14
N
7

1
X
0

14
C
6

........
Y
........
(1)

(iii)

Identify the particles X and Y.


X = .............................................

Y = ...............................................
(2)

(b)

(i)

The half-life of carbon-14 is 5568 years. Show that the decay constant of
carbon-14 is about 4 1012 s1. (You may assume 1 year = 3.2 107 s.)
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
(2)

19

(ii)

A sample of carbon-14 has an activity of 16 counts min1. Calculate the number


of nuclei of carbon-14 in this sample.
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................
Number of nuclei =
(2)
(Total 8 marks)

14.

The first artificially produced isotope was the isotope phosphorus


bombarding aluminium Al with -particles.
(a)

(i)

30
15

P. This was formed by

Complete the equation to show the missing nucleon and proton numbers:

.......
.......
30
1
Al
+
.......
....... 15 P + 0 n
(2)

(ii)

30
15

P decays to a stable isotope of silicon 30


14 Si by the emission of a further particle,
X. Complete the following equation to show the missing nucleon and proton
numbers:
30
15

.......
P 3014 Si + ....... X

Suggest what the particle X is.


............................................................................................................................
(2)

20

(b)

The half-life of the radioactive isotope of phosphorus


meanings of the terms half-life and isotope.

30
15

P is 195 seconds. Give the

Half-life ........................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................
Isotope ..........................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................
(3)

(c)

Atoms which emit - or -particles usually emit -rays as well. Explain why this occurs.
......................................................................................................................................
......................................................................................................................................
......................................................................................................................................
......................................................................................................................................
......................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 8 marks)

15.

Radioactive isotopes emitting gamma radiation can be used to preserve food. The food is
exposed to the radiation which kills most of the bacteria that occur naturally.
Why is gamma radiation used in this process rather than alpha or beta?
.................................................................................................................................................
(1)

21

The food is passed on a conveyor belt under a radiation source.

Gamma
source

Food

Conveyor belt
State two factors which control the amount of radiation reaching each item of food.
.................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................
(2)

A thick wall surrounds the irradiation room to prevent the radiation escaping. Suggest a suitable
material and thickness for this wall.
.................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................
(2)

Many consumers are worried about irradiated food, as they wrongly believe that this makes it
become radioactive. Food does, however, contain a small level of naturally occurring radiation.
Name something other than food that is also a source of natural radiation.
.................................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 6 marks)

22

16.

Carbon clock could show the wrong time


This was the headline of a news report in Physics Web in May 2001 about some stalagmites
found in a cave in the Bahamas.
Stalagmites are found in limestone caves and are long, thin rocks formed by the deposition of
calcium carbonate from solution. The stalagmites in the news report are a half-metre long. They
contain atoms of the radioactive isotope carbon-14, which has a half-life of 5730 years. The
decay of carbon-14 can be used to determine the age of objects. This process is called
radiocarbon dating.
In one part of the stalagmites,

255
of the carbon-14 atoms have decayed.
256

Determine the age of this part of the stalagmite.


.................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................
.................................................................................................................................................
Age = ....................................
(3)

Some parts were formed much more recently. How would this affect their carbon-14
concentration?
.................................................................................................................................................
(1)

23

However, scientists have found that the level of carbon-14 when the oldest parts of the
stalagmites were formed was twice the modern level. Discuss the effect on the validity of radiocarbon dating.
.................................................................................................................................................
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(3)
(Total 7 marks)

17.

A smoke detector contains a small radioactive source. A typical source contains 1.2 108 g of
americium-241, which has a half-life of 432 years. Show that the decay constant of americium241 is approximately 5 1011 s1.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Calculate the number of nuclei in 1.2 108 g of americium-241, given that 241 g contains
6.0 1023 nuclei.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Number of nuclei = ..................................................
(1)

Hence calculate the activity of 1.2 108 g of americium-241.


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Activity = .................................................................
(2)

24

The diagram below shows the principle of the smoke detector.


Current
detector

Radioactive
source
Metal
plates

Radiation from the source ionises the air between the plates, and a small current is detected. If
smoke enters the detector, the ions stick to the smoke particles, reducing the current and
triggering an alarm.
Americium-241 is an alpha emitter. Explain why an alpha emitter is a suitable source for this
apparatus.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Discuss other features of this americium sample which make it a suitable source for the smoke
detector.
...............................................................................................................................................
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...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)
(Total 10 marks)

25

18.

(a)

Explain what is meant by the term binding energy.


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
Iron has the highest binding energy per nucleon of any nucleus. What does this tell you
about an iron nucleus?
.....................................................................................................................................
(3)

(b)

Carbon-14, 146 C , is unstable and decays by emission to nitrogen, N. Write a full


nuclear equation for this decay.
.....................................................................................................................................
(3)

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 years. Living organisms contain approximately 100
atoms 146 C for every 1020 atoms of stable carbon-12, 126 C . Estimate the age of a fossil
which is found to contain approximately 12 atoms of

14
6C

for every 1020 atoms of

12
6C.

.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 8 marks)

19.

An airport decides to use -radiation to examine luggage.


How are -rays dangerous to people?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

26

Suggest a material which could be used for the shielding of airport staff, and the minimum
thickness required.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Why is radiation not used to examine luggage?


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

Explain why air travellers are exposed to increased doses of background radiation.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 7 marks)

20.

What are isotopes?


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

27

A nucleus of an isotope of polonium (symbol Po) has 84 protons and 126 neutrons. Mark the
position of this nucleus on the grid below, and label it Po.

Nucleon
number

214
213
212
211
210
209
208
207
206
205
204
80

81

82

83

84

85

86

87

88

89

Proton number

This isotope of polonium decays by alpha particle emission into an element X. Starting from Po,
add a line to the grid to represent this decay.
(3)

28

This isotope of polonium is thought to emit only alpha radiation. Describe how you could check
this experimentally.
...............................................................................................................................................
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...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)
(Total 7 marks)

21.

The range of nuclear radiation in matter depends on how strongly the radiation ionises matter.
Explain the meanings of the terms in bold type.
range .....................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
ionises ...................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

State and explain the qualitative relationship between range and ionising ability.
...............................................................................................................................................
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...............................................................................................................................................
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(2)

29

Beta radiation from a certain source can be stopped completely by a sheet of aluminium 3.0 mm
thick. Calculate the mass of a square sheet of aluminium of this thickness measuring 1.0 m 1.0
m.
(Density of aluminium = 2.7 103 kg m3)
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Mass = ................................................................
(2)

To a fair approximation, the ability of any sheet of material to stop beta radiation depends only
on the mass per square metre of a sheet of the material. Estimate the thickness of lead sheet
needed to stop the same beta radiation completely.
(Density of lead = 11.3 103 kg m3)
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Thickness = .........................................................
(2)
(Total 8 marks)

22.

Part of the uranium decay series is shown below.


238
92 U

234
90Th

234
230
226
234
91 Pa 92 U 90 Th 88 Ra

Write above each arrow the charged particle emitted during that decay.
(2)

30

The stable end product of the complete uranium decay series is lead, 206
82 Pb . How many alpha
particles are emitted between

226
88 Ra

and the end of the series?

...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 3 marks)

23.

What do we call the nuclear radiation which is around us all the time?
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

Name one source of this radiation.


...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

Suggest why our exposure to radiation is greater today than it was 100 years ago.
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

In factories that produce fabric from synthetic fibres, there may be problems due to the build-up
of static charge on the fabric. Beta radiation can be used to reduce the problem.
(i)

Give two reasons why beta radiation is chosen rather than gamma radiation.
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................

(ii)

Why is beta radiation chosen rather than alpha radiation?


.....................................................................................................................................
.....................................................................................................................................
(3)

31

Gamma radiation is used for detecting flaws in an aircraft wing. Why is gamma radiation
suitable in this application?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
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...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 8 marks)

24.

The Huygens/Cassini space mission to Titan, a moon of Saturn, left the Earth amid a storm of
protest. The protest was about its nuclear-powered battery which contained plutonium-238, an
alpha emitter. Before launch in 1997, a newspaper article read
PLUTONIUM PROBE PERIL
NASA is going to send up a space probe with 70 pounds of deadly
plutonium on board. The probe is going to be launched using a Titan
IV rocket the same type of rocket that blew up over the Pacific
Ocean just 4 years ago in 1993.
Plutonium is so deadly that just one pound of it, spread through the
Earths atmosphere, could cause lung cancer in every person on Earth!
Less than one millionth of a gram of it is a deadly dose.
In plutonium-238, what does 238 mean?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

Why did the plutonium source cause concern?


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

32

The half-life of plutonium-238 is 88 years and, at launch, the source contained 7.2 1025 atoms.
Show that the activity of the plutonium source, at the time of launch, was about 2 1016 Bq.
(1 year = 3.16 107 s)
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)

Each plutonium nucleus releases 5.6 MeV when it decays. Calculate the power (in watts)
delivered by the plutonium at the time of the rocket launch.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Power = .............................................................
(3)

The textbooks say that nuclear decay is a random process. Explain whether this means that there
is some doubt that the power can be relied upon.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

33

What percentage of the power at launch will still be available 10 years after the launch?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Percentage = ......................................................
(2)

Suggest why plutonium was chosen for this mission.


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 12 marks)

34

25.

A physics student asked a large group of children to stand up and perform a simple experiment
to model radioactive decay. Each child flipped a coin. Those who flipped a head sat down.
The children left standing again flipped a coin and those who flipped a head sat down.
This process was repeated twice more.
There were initially 192 children standing. Plot on the axes below the expected graph of the
results. Add a scale to the y-axis.

Number of
children
left standing

4
Number of occasions
coin was flipped
(3)

Radioactive decay is a random process. Explain what this means.


...............................................................................................................................................
................................................................................................................................................
(1)

35

In what way is the experiment a model of a random process?


................................................................................................................................................
................................................................................................................................................
(1)

What is meant by the half-life of a radioisotope?


................................................................................................................................................
................................................................................................................................................
(1)

Does the model illustrate half-life? Justify your answer.


................................................................................................................................................
................................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 7 marks)

36

26.

A student has been writing some revision notes. The dotted lines show where she has left out
information. Complete each section for her.
Radiation
Background radiation
is all around us
is ionising
comes from a variety of sources, e.g ........................................................................
(1)

Nuclear radiation properties


Alpha

Beta

Gamma

Ionising ability

..............................

Medium

..............................

Penetrating power
(stopped by)

..............................

..............................

Many cm lead or
m of concrete
(3)
(Total 4 marks)

27.

Indium-115 (symbol In, proton number 49) decays by beta-minus emission to tin (symbol Sn).
Write down a nuclear equation representing this decay.
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Indium-115 has a half-life of 4.4 1014 years. Calculate its decay constant.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Decay constant = ................................................
(2)

37

A radioactive source contains 2.3 1021 nuclei of indium-115. Calculate the activity of this
source in becquerels.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Activity = ...................................................... Bq

State how this activity compares with a normal background count rate.
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)
(Total 7 marks)

28.

A Physics department has an old radium source which is thought to emit alpha, beta and gamma
radiation. A student performs some experimental tests to find out whether this is correct. She
uses a metre rule, a I mm thick sheet of aluminium, a 5 mm thick sheet of aluminium and a
suitable Geiger-Mller tube with a ratemeter. Her results are as follows:
Test
number

Procedure

The source is held very close to


the GM tube.

The source is moved a few


centimetres away from the GM
tube.

Observations on ratemeter

Count rate is high.

Count rate suddenly drops.

With the source 20 cm from the


GM tube, 1 mm of aluminium is
inserted between them.

Count rate drops


significantly.

With source still 20 cm from the


GM tube, 5 mm of aluminium is
inserted between them.

Count rate is still well above


background.

38

Which test(s) lead to the conclusion that each of alpha, beta and gamma radiation is emitted by
the source? Justify your answers.
Alpha:
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Beta:
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Gamma:
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(Total 4 marks)

29.

A radioactive isotope of carbon,

14
6C,

is continuously produced in the upper atmosphere when

neutrons ejected from nuclei by cosmic rays collide with atmospheric nitrogen

14
7

N.

Complete the nuclear equation below to show the production of radioactive carbon in the upper
atmosphere. Hence identify X, the other product of the reaction.

........
........ N

........
14
........
........ n 6 C + ........ X

X = ..............................................................................................................................
(3)

39

Living plants take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and have a normal activity of 15.3
counts per minute per gram of carbon due to absorption of some carbon dioxide containing
carbon-14. On death, the plant no longer takes in carbon-14 and the amount already taken up
decays with a half-life of 5730 years.
Estimate the age of an archaeological specimen with an activity of 1.9 counts per minute per
gram of carbon.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)

Suggest one problem in measuring an activity as low as 1.9 counts per minute per gram of
carbon.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 7 marks)

30.

How many neutrons does the nucleus of

14
6C

contain?

...............................................................................................................................................
Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5600 years. Calculate the decay constant of carbon-14.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Decay constant = ..........................................
(3)

40

A sample of 14g of carbon-14 contains 6.0 1023 nuclei.


How many nuclei are there in 7.0 109 g of carbon-14?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Number of nuclei = ................................................

Hence calculate the activity of 7.0 109 g of carbon-14.


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Activity = ......................................................
(3)

Carbon-14 is a beta-minus emitter and its decay product is a nucleus of nitrogen, N. Write down
a nuclear equation demonstrating this decay.
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 8 marks)

31.

Scientists have worked out the age of the Moon by dating the rocks brought back by the Apollo
missions. They use the decay of potassium-40 to stable argon-40 in the rocks; this process has a
half life of 1.3 109 years. In one rock sample, the scientists found 0.84 g of argon-40 and
0.10 g of potassium-40.
Use the data above to calculate the age of the Moon.
(Allow one lined page)
(Total 6 marks)

41

32.

A school physics department has a cobalt-60 gamma ray source. Its half-life is several years. As
a project, a student decides to try to measure this half-life. She sets up a GM tube close to the
source and determines the count produced by the source in a 10 minute period. One year later
she repeats the measurement.
Explain two precautions, other than safety precautions, which the student should take in her
measurements in order to produce a reliable value for the half-life.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)

The student then calculates the count she would expect to get in a 10 minute period if she
repeated her measurement annually. Some of her results are shown in the table below.
Time/year

Count in 10 minute period

17 602

15 489

13 630

3
4

10 554

9287

8172

7191

Calculate the ratio of the count after one year to the initial count.
Ratio = ....................................................................
(1)

Complete the table to show the count you would expect for year 3.
(1)

42

On the axes below, plot a graph of count against time.

Use your graph to determine a value for the half-life of cobalt-60.


...............................................................................................................................................
Half-life = ..........................................................
(4)
(Total 9 marks)

33.

Below are the symbols for some nuclei of the element tin.
111
50 Sn

112
50

Sn

113
50

Sn

114
50

Sn

115
50

Sn

What name is given to different nuclei of this type?


...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

43

111
50 Sn

decays by beta-plus emission into indium (In). Write a balanced nuclear equation for this
decay.
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Which nucleus in the list is likely to produce the densest material?


...............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 4 marks)

34.

Young people have swum for many years in an unusually warm Siberian river near to a secret
nuclear fuel reprocessing factory. This factory has made regular discharges of nuclear waste into
the river.
Why is the river unusually warm?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)

Alpha (), beta () and gamma () radiation can be emitted by the radioactive waste. What are
each of these?
...........................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...........................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)

44

For the swimmers health, which are the most hazardous radioactive nuclei in the water: those
emitting , or radiation?
...............................................................................................................................................
Explain your answer.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Some people say that the water would still be radioactive if the factory were not there, since we
live in a radioactive world. Where could this radioactivity come from?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 7 marks)

35.

Samples of two different isotopes of iron have been prepared. Compare the compositions of
their nuclei.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................

The samples have the same chemical properties. Suggest a physical property which would differ
between them.
...............................................................................................................................................
(3)

Tritium (hydrogen-3) is an emitter of beta particles. Complete the nuclear equation for this
decay.

He

(3)

45

Describe how you would verify experimentally that tritium emits only beta particles.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(4)
(Total 10 marks)

36.

A radioactive source contains barium-140. The initial activity of the source is 6.4 108 Bq. Its
decay constant is 0.053 day1.
Calculate the half-life in days of barium-140.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Half-life = .............................................. days

Calculate the initial number of barium-140 nuclei present in the source.


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Number of nuclei = .......................................
(4)

46

The graph below represents radioactive decay. Add a suitable scale to each axis, so that the
graph correctly represents the decay of this barium source.

Activity

Time
A radium-226 source has the same initial activity as the barium-140 source. Its half-life is 1600
years. On the same axes sketch a graph to show how the activity of the radium source would
vary over the same period.
(3)
(Total 7 marks)

37.

Phosphorus 15 P is unstable and decays by emission to sulphur, S. Write a nuclear equation


for this decay.
32

..............................................................................................................................................
(1)

Describe how, using a Geiger counter and suitable absorbers, you could show that an unstable
nuclide of long half-life emitted only radiation.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
(4)

47

The scatter diagram shows the relationship between the number of neutrons and the number of
protons for stable nuclides.

Number of
neutrons N 120

100

80

60

40

20

0
0

20

40
60
80
Number of protons Z

Show on the diagram the region where nuclides which decay by emission would be found.
Use the diagram to help you explain your answer.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
(3)
(Total 9 marks)

48

38.

A student measured the background radiation in a laboratory at 4.0 Bq. State two sources of
background radiation.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
(2)

Sodium-22 decays by beta-plus radiation to neon.


Complete the nuclear equation ensuring that each symbol has the appropriate nucleon and
proton number.
22
11 Na

Ne

Write down another possible isotope of sodium.


Na
(3)

Sodium-22 has a half-life of 2.6 years.


Determine the decay constant of sodium-22 in s1.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
Decay constant = ..............................................s1.

A sample of common salt (sodium chloride) is contaminated with sodium-22. The activity of a
spoonful is found to be 2.5 Bq. How many nuclei of sodium-22 does the spoonful contain?
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
Number of nuclei = .............................................
(4)

49

Explain whether your answer suggests that the salt is heavily contaminated.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 10 marks)

39.

234
Protactinium, Pa, decays to uranium 92
U by emitting a beta-minus particle. The uranium
produced is itself radioactive and decays by alpha emission to thorium, Th.

Number of neutrons

144
143
142
141
140
139
138
88

89

90

91

92

93

94

95

Proton number
234
U. Draw lines on the grid showing both the beta-minus and
Mark and label the position of 92
the alpha decays. Label your lines and .

(Total 4 marks)

50

40.

The grid shows the relationship between number of neutrons N and number of protons Z for
some of the stable nuclides in the region Z = 31 to Z = 45.

N 60

55

50

45

40
30

Strontium-90,

35

90
38

40

45

Sr, is an unstable nuclide. It decays by emission to an unstable isotope of

yttrium. On the graph mark the position of

90
38

Sr and this isotope of yttrium.


(2)

82
37

Rb is another unstable nuclide. Mark the position of

By what means would you expect

82
37

82
37

Rb on the graph.

Rb to decay?

..............................................................................................................................................
(2)
(Total 4 marks)

51

41.

The Radiocat website says:

R A D I O C A T
A one shot deal!
Older cats often get benign tumours of the thyroid gland, but
Radiocat can deal with these. One injection of radioiodine 131
53 I is
all it takes! The

131
53 I

is absorbed into the thyroid and destroys the

thyroid tumour. Our treatment plan includes

131
53 I

injection and

daily monitoring with as much love and care as we can safely give.
Your cat must reach a safe and legal level of radioactivity before
coming home.

The 131
53 I has a half-life of 8 days and, when first injected, its activity is 80 MBq. On the axes
below, sketch a graph showing how the activity changes with time for 24 days after the
injection.

Activity/MBq

Time/days
(2)

52

131
53 I

emits -particles and -rays.

Describe the composition of the nucleus of

131
53 I

...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
State two differences between a -particle and a -ray.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(4)

During its stay in the clinic the cat cannot be given much love and care. Explain this
statement.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................

A safe level of radiation release is 50 MBq. Calculate how long a cat must stay at the clinic
before it is allowed home.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
Length of time =..........................................
(4)

53

State one assumption you made in the calculation above.


...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 12 marks)

42.

A student has a sample of a radioactive element which is thought to be a pure beta emitter.
The student has only the following apparatus available:

a thin window Geiger-Muller tube connected to a counter

a piece of aluminium 3 mm thick, and

a half-metre rule

How would the student determine the background radiation level in the laboratory?
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(2)

The student investigates how the count rate varies with distance from the source to the G-M
tube and also the effect of inserting the aluminium absorber. From these experiments explain
how the student could confirm that the sample was a pure beta emitter. You may be awarded a
mark for the clarity of your answer.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(5)
(Total 7 marks)

54

43.

The graph shows the decay of a radioactive nuclide.

8
Number of atoms
N / 10 20
6

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

160

180
t/s

Determine the half-life of this radionuclide.


..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
Half-life = .......................................
(2)

Use your value of half-life to calculate the decay constant of this radionuclide.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
Decay constant = ............................
(1)

55

Use the graph to determine the rate of decay dN/dt when N = 3.0 1020.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
Rate of decay = ..............................
(3)

Use your value of the rate of decay to calculate the decay constant of this radionuclide.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
Decay constant = ............................
(2)

Explain which method of determining the decay constant you consider to be more reliable.
..............................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
(1)
(Total 9 marks)

56

44.

(i)

Radioactivity is a random process. Explain what is meant by this statement.

(ii)

The decay of a sample of radioactive material can be described by the equation.

dN
= N
dt
where dN/dt is the activity of the sample.
Calculate the activity of a sample of nitrogen13 when N=2.5 105. The half-life of
nitrogen13 is 10 minutes.
(iii)

Nitrogen13 ( 137 N) decays to a stable nuclide by emitting a beta-plus particle. Write an


equation for this process.
(Total 7 marks)

45.

The grid enables different nuclei to be represented by plotting the number of neutrons N against
the number of protons Z in a nucleus. The arrow shows a nucleus X decaying to a nucleus Y.

88
N
86

84
Y
82
80
58

60

62

64
Z

57

What type of radioactive decay is taking place?


...............................................................................................................................................
Write a nuclear equation for this decay.
...............................................................................................................................................
Add another arrow to the grid to represent what happens if nucleus Y subsequently decays by
emission to nucleus W.
Mark a point P on the grid that could represent the nucleus of an isotope of X.
(Total 5 marks)

46.

It is thought that some soil could be contaminated with a radioisotope.


You have a sample of this soil. Design an experiment to find what types of radiation are
emitted.
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................
(Total 5 marks)

58